Town Board Work Session
May 22, 2012
Without any discussion, and while the public was in the process of entering the room, the board unanimously to approve the appointment of Kim Penner, currently deputy assessor, to the position of assessor. In response to a question from the public, Supervisor Grace said the salary would be $93,500. (The time period for the appointment was not announced.)
2. Police K-9 dog.
Police Chief Dan McMahon asked the board to authorize the expenditure of $10,000 to purchase a new K-9 dog to replace the one that died recently. He said that the town has had two dogs since the 1970s and that one was trained for drug detection and another for missing persons. He explained that the dogs accompany the officers on their regular patrols.
In response to Councilman Bianco’s questions regarding whether there was a need for the dog and why the Town couldn’t use either the state or county dogs, Chief McMahon explained that the state dogs weren’t appropriate because they were trained as bloodhounds. He said that Yorktown’s dogs were “invaluable” when they were needed, adding that they saved manpower when the PD had to check alarm calls for large commercial buildings and to search for missing persons.
Councilman Bianco also raised the question of other municipalities requesting the services of the dogs. In response, the Chief explained that we’re a regional facility and that there’s a mutual sharing among the municipalities, but that if some don’t have anything to offer Yorktown, then his department is less likely to offer them a service. Emphasizing the regional nature of some of our services, such as the pending Citizens Emergency Response Team program (CERT), Supervisor Grace said the town should start looking for money to help finance these services.
As for the expense of the dogs, Supervisor Grace said that the $10,000 purchase price for “a piece of equipment” was very minor in the department’s $9 million budget.
The board will vote on the authorization at the June 5th meeting.
3. Barking dogs legislation
Explaining that both the town prosecutor and town attorney have determined that the current law governing barking dogs is unenforceable due to its vagueness, Police Chief McMahon asked the board to consider amending the law in order to make it enforceable. He said that the departments gets about 12 complaints a year. When responding to complaints, an officer visits the owner and explains the law, basically giving the owner a warning. In most cases, the barking stops after the owner gets a warning, he said. If the barking continues, then a summons is issued. He didn’t explain how the current law should be amended, although one suggestion from Town Attorney Koster was that the barking level be monitored by a decibel meter. (See related discussion about amending the Noise Ordinance.)
In response to Councilman Paganelli’s question whether the law should include time periods, Chief McMahon said that the problem was basically 24/7 and he did not recommend complicating the law by adding different time periods.
Supervisor Grace didn’t think any law that made barking a violation would be enforcement but he told the Chief to work with the town attorney to see what they could come up with.
Councilman Bianco told the Chief that he thought one of the problems enforcing the law was that when residents call the PD to complain, they were told that they would have to sign a complaint. Calling this a deterrent, he suggested that the PD first talk to the owner and seek voluntary compliance before having to ask the neighbor to file a written complaint in the event the barking didn’t stop.
4. Noise Ordinance
Police Chief McMahon explained that the current law that refers to an “unreasonable” noise level, e.g., from chain saws or loud music, is unenforceable because it is too vague. The only solution, he suggested, was to purchas3e a decibel meter, at approximately $200, and then decide what level should be considered unacceptably loud. The meter would be used at the property line and would function like radar.
While Councilman Bianco called this a “qualify of life” issue, Supervisor Grace said that the law would be thrown out on its first challenge. “You guys figure it out,” he said to the other board members.
5. 30 Metro/PSC Cell Tower at Mohegan Storage Tank Site
The discussion with two representatives of cell tower companies focused on the relocation of an existing cell tower pad in order to provide the water department with needed access to the site’s storage tanks. When the lease was granted in 2009 to Crown Castle, there was only a three foot space between the tanks and the tower’s pad; the water department needs 10 feet. (During the somewhat confusing discussion, it appeared that although the lease was signed in 2009, it was only recently that the company wanted to do some work at the site.)
The cell tower company has no problem relocating the pad, but the discussion focused on who would pay for relocating the existing equipment and whether the cell tower company was entitled to a rebate to offset the relocation cost. Water Distribution Superintendent David Rambo said that the town could do some of the relocation work, but if that required the services of an electrician, that would be an outside expense. The cell tower company was asking for a rebate of $15,000 to cover four months rent. Mr. Rambo added that the relocation would be done much faster if the company did the work.
Supervisor Grace advised the company that its use of the site was subordinate to the town’s public use and that basically the original lease would be illegal. He said he would meet with the cell tower representatives before next Tuesday’s work session to see what could be worked out. “We don’t want to delay you,” he said, confident that the issue could be resolved.
6. Lyhus Property, Hanover Street (wetlands issues)
Engineer John Karell and attorney Al Capellini asked the board to set up a public hearing for a wetlands permit now that the DEP has given its okay for a minor subdivision on the parcel. Supervisor Grace said that the board would advertise a June 19th public hearing at the June 5th meeting. It wasn’t clear whether the board voted to refer the application to the Conservation Board or would vote on the referral on June 5th.
7. Bernstein House
Supervisor Grace reported that the town received only one response, from Bill Primavera, to its RFP for brokers interested in marketing the property.
Mr. Primavera said that his commission would be 5.5% if another broker was involved, 4.5% if he was the only broker, and 3% if a buyer approached the town on his or her own initiative. He suggested that the exclusive agreement run for nine months. He also wants to town to do some clean up of the property.
While Mr. Primavera said he thinks he has a buyer who’s interested in restoring the house, his contract would also include a sale that could subdivide the property.
The Supervisor and Mr. Primavera will work out the details of a final agreement to be voted on at the June 5th meeting.
8. Sparkle Lake lifeguards
Although not on the agenda, the board voted unanimously to provide lifeguards at Sparkle Lake this summer.
Councilman Paganelli, liaison to the Recreation Commission, explained that the Commission had recommended against having the lifeguards citing the fact that the Recreation Department had already scheduled programs at the building and that the town’s insurance broker had advised the commission that the town actually had less liability without the lifeguards. “It’s not clear cut,” he said, adding that the final decision was the board’s and not the commission’s. While he acknowledged that people do swim there when lifeguards are not on duty, he saw the issue as one of public safety and a help to moms who might be there with three children who have to be watched.
9. Renewal of Westlaw contract
Although not the agenda, the board had a brief discussion with Town Attorney Koster over the annual renewal of the town’s contract with Westlaw, an online service used by attorneys. The Town currently pays for licenses for the town attorney and supervisor and has a public access license at the library. Supervisor Grace thought the monthly contract amount was too high and said he would have further discussions with Ms. Koster before the new contract had to be voted on by June 1st.
10. School Resource Officer (SRO) contracts
Without any discussion, the board approved SRO contracts with the Yorktown and Lakeland school districts. Cortlandt has not signed a new contract to cover its share of the SRO at Cooper Beech Middle School.
11. Northern Westchester Energy Advisory Consortium (NWEAC)
The board approved renewing the town’s annual membership in NWEAC at a cost of $1,000 although it wasn’t clear where the funds would come from. Speaking for the Energy Advisory Committee, Paul Moskowitz said that in the past, the funds came from the federal energy grant but Comptroller Joan Goldberg said that those funds were fully accounted for. She added, however, that that town was in the process of having the federal agency take a second look at prior expenditures to see what funds might still be available.
12. Miscellaneous financial issues
a. Worker’s Compensation. Comptroller Goldberg advised the board that the state is looking into a complaint (she did not indicate what the complaint was) that involved USA/TPA, the company that administers the town’s workers’ compensation program.
b. Moody’s bond rating. Comptroller Goldberg reported that she would be meeting later in the week with the town’s financial advisor to ask Moody’s to revisit – with an eye towards raising -- the town’s bond rating. She explained that while Moody’s charges for the review, that cost could be waived if, at the same time, the Town refinanced the existing pool bond. While there are only three years remaining on the pool bond, refinancing would lower the interest rate to about 4% compared to the current 7% rate. The board gave her the go ahead on the refinancing and Moody’s review.
c. Holland Sporting Club. At the request of Supervisor Grace, Comptroller Golberg said she was setting up a special capital projects fund to assign the costs of the Holland Sporting Club abatement/demolition work.
Note; The agenda discussion on Hallocks Mill Pump station was postponed to the board’s May 29th work session. Also, no action was taken on the Baptist Church Rehabilitation resolutions.